EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories profiling the award winters announced last week by the Yankton Chamber of Commerce.
Rob Stephenson grew up in Yankton, left home, then returned in the late ‘90s to work for First Dakota National Bank. Since then, he has spent the last 21 years trying to give back to his hometown.
This is what made him a prime candidate for the Yankton Area Chamber of Commerce Cornerstone/Frank Yaggie Award, given out to, "an individual who has played an integral role in helping the community and others." He was presented the award last week by the Yankton Area Chamber of Commerce
In a press release, the chamber described Stephenson as someone who is, "no stranger to involvement in the community on all levels."
"To have that recognition from the community is really awful flattering," Stephenson said. "It’s something special."
After graduating from Yankton High School and Creighton University, Stephenson worked for seven years as a bank examiner for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in Minneapolis and Sioux Falls before moving back to Yankton.
"I really became involved in the community when I moved back in 1997," Stephenson said. "Working as a lender for First Dakota, community involvement and outreach were such a big part of my job that it fit right in."
Stephenson, now serving as president and chief operating officer of the Yankton First Dakota National Bank, is involved in numerous boards and outreach programs, including Yankton Area Progressive Growth (YAPG), the Morning Optimists Club, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, among others.
"I think it’s something natural to be involved in your community," Stephenson said.
He notes that the similarity of all the different projects is the fundraising efforts needed, with YES3 being one of note.
YES3 (Yankton Economic Success) was a fundraising effort by YAPG to help create jobs in the county, with the most recent campaign raising $2.9 million.
In a previous report from the Press & Dakotan, the YES initiative is said to have helped in the creation of 400 jobs out of the 500 jobs added in the county since 2012.
As president of YAPG, Stephenson was heavily involved in the Port Yankton proposal, which is still working its way forward, but Stephenson thinks it’s going to be a while before anything moves forward.
"We’re in no rush or hurry because the next opportunity to create a constitutional amendment would be November 2020," he said. "But we’re not letting go, just thinking over our options and taking the next best steps to move forward."
Stephenson says the biggest honor attached to the award is to be associated with Frank Yaggie more than being recognized.
Frank Yaggie was a staple of Yankton, serving as president of the chamber of commerce, a member of the state Game, Fish and Parks board and sculpting art that still exists in Yankton today. Yaggie was a key player in making sure that Yankton followed a city manager style of government. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 92.
"I just believe in helping people, and we’re all put on this Earth for a reason," Stephenson said. "Part of the reason I am here is to give whatever talent or ability I have back to help the community, and if someone is in need of help, I’m going to help them."
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